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Climate Reality Corps Leadership training in Colorado: A life changing experience

It's the beginning of a sustainable revolution

Climate Reality Corps Leadership training in Denver, Colorado 2017.

After a long day of flying I've returned to snowy Canada with a ClimateReality Project green ring, a certificate signed by formed Vice President Al Gore and most importantly; hope for the future. It's not always easy to remain hopeful in the face of climate change, especially after three days of being presented with scientific evidence and examples of climate related weather disasters. But had you been sitting where I was sitting (Table 2!) with a group of people from all walks of life and from all over the world, I think you would be hopeful that there is someone in your corner, eager to change the world!

The attendance at this year's training in Denver, Colorado was astounding. The last count that was presented to us was 972 people- 973 if you count baby Isabella! We had 60 Canadians. We all heard whisperings that 1200 applicants were not accepted, but I'm unsure if that's true. What's obvious is that in the current political climate people from all over the world recognized that if there was ever a time to take a chance and do this training, it's now.

Former Vice President Al Gore after taking a
photo with the 972 conference attendees.

I know many of you will have questions about the conference and the speakers- especially Al Gore. I was trained on how to present the very same scientific data that Gore uses in his slide shows- I now have access to those slide shows, so I can present them to you all! A good portion of the conference was teaching us the science that proves the cause and effects of climate change. Gore was engaging- at times hilarious- and very frank about the science and how to communicate with climate deniers. He led panel discussions with scientists, politicians and activists who are developing- and using- real world solutions today. Gore and a panel of scientists answered some of our questions and we at Table 2 were quite excited when our table’s question was asked. I viewed an exclusive clip of the upcoming An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power film. I will be promoting in the future, so stay tuned!

Something else happened while I was in Denver, something unexpected. I found just as much value in the connections I made with the other Climate Reality Corps Leaders in training as I did in the presentations. Some of them had already completed previous trainings and were returning to learn the most current information. Many, like me, were attending for the first time. But each and every one was a positive, encouraging voice that said "you are not alone."

Representing Canada on the Climate Reality Project stage.

The Climate Reality Project team went to great lengths to ensure that the conference was rooted in sustainability by using best practices in accordance to internationally recognized systems such as ISO 20121 and the APEX/ASTM green meeting standards. The meals were vegetarian and all food and drinks were sustainably sourced. Climate Reality Project ensured that the conference reduced its overall energy and water consumption, and offered composting and recycling for any waste we created! Our event materials were sourced locally and can all be recycled- although I don't see myself ever getting rid of my training book!

The Colorado Convention Center is an sustainability inspiration. The building holds many sustainability and green certifications. The Climate Reality Project team showed us a photo of the roof of the building- covered in solar panels. It's a LEED building, which is a green certification that is also available in Canada. I have to mention that the staff was incredible and I miss being greeted by Harold everyday.

Al Gore, Don Whittmore, Kevin Klein and Hilda Nucete during
panel On the front lines: Responding to climate impacts.
The energy trapped by man-made global warming pollution is now “equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year.”[1] The “extreme” temperature events that used to cover 0.1% of the Earth, now cover 10%.[2] We are seeing the effects of climate change all over the world. It can be scary, but what I took from my training was an overwhelming sense of hope for the future. We are in the beginning of a sustainable revolution. After seeing Al Gore present the solutions that many countries are adapting, and seeing Colorado’s sustainable solutions first hand, I’m truly optimistic that the technology is available and affordable enough to get us to our Paris Climate Agreement goal. In January 2014, Ontario ordered the closing of its last remaining coal-fired power plant. We now have a cap and trade carbon tax in Ontario and I’m hopeful that Ontario will lead the way to a greener future.

Even though big changes are required to reduce the effects of climate change, small adjustments to every day living and consumer practices can still make an impact. Switching to LED light bulbs, shopping local, growing your own food and biking or walking are all great ways to make an impact. Why not make one of these small sustainable and green changes- no matter what you choose to believe about climate change? To the climate deniers out there I ask you this; what do you have to lose? Because if you are wrong in your opinion, then you would have everything to gain by making small changes in your life to live greener.

Day one of the training was exciting! The positive energy was so great
that we probably could have powered the Colorado Convention Center with it!
So why did I decide to do this? Part of it is a sense of urgency to protect and share climate science as Trump America begins to take on it's true form. Part of it is feeling like I'm so far away from groups taking action that I'm encouraged to take action myself.

Mostly it's about the untouched nature that I have experienced in the Ottawa Valley while exploring with dogs Hazel and Keira, and how it has returned to me this feeling of wonder and pride towards the Earth, and a need to live in harmony with it. To protect it.

I want to say thank you again to everyone that helped get me there, either by donating or providing me with moral support. I'm excited to give my first presentation and I ask anyone in the Ottawa Valley area to please reach out if you are interested in having me present Al Gore's climate change slideshow to your business, group or friends and family. Do you want to talk about climate change? Do you want to work collaborate on an event or initiative? Are you unsure about the science and want to talk more? I can be reached at pawsforreaction@live.ca and I encourage you to reach out!

[1] Source: James Hansen Former Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

[2] Source: NASA/GISS; Hansen, et al., “Perceptions of Climate Change,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 10.1073, August 2012

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